The truth is out there: on video and worth pounds 1m

People & Business

A British insurance broker says it is to pay pounds 1m to a client who insured himself against being abducted by aliens.

Simon Burgess of brokers Grip says Joseph Carpenter, who paid pounds 100 in October to insure himself against being whisked away, impregnated or eaten by aliens, has presented convincing proof of his abduction.

Mr Burgess, who has attracted much publicity by offering off-the-wall insurance policies, such as insurance against virgin births, says: "We will be presenting Mr Carpenter with just under pounds 1m on 21 December at a London hotel. Gillian Andersen of the X Files will present the cheque.

"Mr Carpenter has presented video and other evidence. He has validated his claim and our intention is to provide him with his money. We have 26 insurers backing us."

Mr Carpenter, an electrician from Edmonton, London, can't wait to get his hands on the lolly. He describes the abduction: "It happened in Swindon. We were trespassing near a military base. We've got camcorder footage, photos, a claw. They've done DNA tests on the claw - it's all been analysed at a Cambridge college."

Isn't he afraid people will accuse him of being either loopy or of making it all up?

"The camera would have to be loopy as well. As long as I get my money I don't care what they call me. To be honest, I'm looking forward to meeting Gillian Andersen more than getting the cheque - wey hey!"

The Association of British Insurers says that more than 100,000 Americans have taken out similar insurance against alien kidnappings. "Most British insurers are sniffy about these kinds of policies," says an ABI spokeswomen. It sounds like Mr Burgess could really clean up stateside.

City spin doctors Citigate have been bought out by communications group Incepta in a reverse takeover valuing Citigate at around pounds 28m. Founding directors of Citigate, such as chief executive David Wright, who holds 10 per cent of the equity, will obviously trouser a big wedge.

What about Patrick Donovan, legendary bon vivant and business scoopster on the Guardian, who is about to join a Citigate subsidiary as a director? Has our hero missed the boat?

Quite the reverse, says Mr Wright. "Patrick's timing is impeccable. There were no share options under the previous set-up, but we will be looking to offer incentives to our directors." Lucky so and so.

Ian Plenderleith, an executive director of the Bank of England, partly regrets the bank's plan to move its main afternoon money market dealing in bills from 2pm to 2.40pm.

In his characteristic dry way, he says the 2pm dealing time "was inconvenient for people's lunch appointments, although it hasn't discouraged us [from dealing] in the past".

He hotly denies that the bank is moving the time later in order to aid the City's post- prandial digestion.

Mr Plenderleith also laments the fact that he has cornered the supply of old-fashioned top hats, which used to be such a feature of the Square Mile.

He says he bought the half-dozen hats from Mullens, the former government broker, but since then they have been sitting in a cupboard.

He has so far failed to find a buyer.

The last bill brokers to visit the bank in their top hats stopped doing so only four years ago. Now everything's done on the phone, he says.

Mr Plenderleith's own top hat is still in his office - but languishing unused. It's a ceremonial hangover from his titular, ceremonial role of Government Broker.

Among the 15-odd companies being flogged off by Williams Holdings is Rawlplug. The company was founded by John Rawlings in the 1920s, when he invented rawl plugs, which were originally made out of pig's blood and sisal. They still use sisal, but an alternative to pig's blood has been found.

Williams is also selling off Amdega, a company which builds up-market conservatories. Amdega claims it made the first conservatory in the UK in 1874, at Preston Hall near Darlington, for the Hall's owner, Sir Robert Ropner, a local MP.

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